Seasonal field trips make up Gahagan’s oldest and most cherished environmental education program. The preserve offers a 90-minute outdoor experience that is designed to meet age-appropriate grade-level science objectives. Field trips cover a variety of subjects, and a unique presentation is prepared for every grade-level to ensure that participating students get a new educational experience with every visit to the preserve. These trips cover diverse topics ranging from ecosystem studies to plant and animal adaptations, to physical science and geology.
Gahagan possesses a wealth of exceptional education materials, and these are used to illustrate lessons in a natural and comprehensive way to elementary-aged students. Many of the field trips involve projects and hands-on activities across the preserve’s diverse array of natural habitats. Gahagan also possess a 5-foot long black rat snake named Sammy, who is a popular figure at the Preserve and in the community at large. Classes often choose to eat lunch at Marguerite’s cabin, which provides students additional time to ask questions and interact with Gahagan’s naturalist.
These field trips offer a guided interaction with nature that is just not possible within school grounds. With developing technology being further integrated in today’s classrooms, there are very few opportunities for students to interact with the outdoors. Gahagan offers the chance for students to escape the classroom and experience nature first-hand. Students navigate the Preserve’s trails, explore habitats, and encounter wildlife while using their senses to make inferences and first-hand discoveries about the natural world.
Gahagan Nature Preserve has been bringing elementary-aged students to the preserve on field trips since 2000. The Preserve sits in the center of COOR Intermediate School District, which encompasses ten elementary schools and six local public school districts: Crawford-AuSable, Mio-AuSable, Fairview, Houghton Lake, West Branch-Rose City and Roscommon. In both the spring and fall, Gahagan sees 600-700 students at the preserve, equivalent to nearly 2,000 student contact-hours a year.